Omanyala eyes Kenya mark at Tokyo 2020
Sprinter Ferdinand Omanyala was the biggest surprise inclusion as Athletics Kenya named the track and field squad to next month’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
Omanyala set a jaw-dropping 10.02 seconds at the national trials with Mark Otieno (10.05) coming second to also qualify.
Kennedy Ondieki was the first Kenyan to take part in 100m and 200m at the Seoul 1988 Olympics and there has been no other athlete to follow in his footsteps.
Omanyala is a Bachelor of Science student at the College of Biological and Physical Sciences at the University of Nairobi, while Otieno is a senior human resource officer at a state corporation in Nairobi.
“I want to show the world that Kenya has good sprinters able to face off with the best in the world. I know it will be a great occasion for the country,” said Omanyala
For Omanyala, it was a case of an athlete given a second chance especially after the AK and the Ministry of Sports repeatedly said no athlete who has served a doping ban will ever don Kenya colours.
The 25-year-old served a 14-month ban in 2017 after being found guilty of using a prohibited substance by the Kenya’s anti-doping agency, Adak.
“I thank God for the second chance I have been given. I have personally learnt from my past mistakes. I served my ban and I should be an example for athletes not to repeat my mistakes,” Omanyala said after being named in the team.
The former rugby player who only switched to athletics five years ago says he is moving willing to work with relevant agencies to fight the vice.
“I was delighted to share my story with fellow athletes during a mandatory anti-doping seminar in Nairobi. I feel such sessions will be important for all the athletes,” added Omanyala.
Athletics Kenya senior vice president and director of competitions Paul Mutwii says several considerations were made before Omanyala was included in the team.
“It was not entirely Omanyala’s doing and he acknowledged as much. We have decided to give him a second chance because he is a young athlete with huge prospects,” said Mutwii.
“This should not, however, be interpreted that we are condoning doping. Kenya is still category A in the watch list of risk countries, a situation we want changed. So we still maintain we shall not accept dopers.”